W&L, Lynchburg, Bridgewater Garner First Place Consideration
FOREST, Va. --- When you are riding a 15-game unbeaten streak and only gave up three goals once the calendar showed October, you generally find yourself in good position in preseason rankings.
That is exactly the case for Washington and Lee University as the Generals return to the top of the ODAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll heading into the 2019 campaign. League coaches awarded nine first place votes to W&L on the way to program picking up 138 total points. The University of Lynchburg sits second at 132 tallies including three top nods, and Roanoke College rounds out the top-three with 119 marks. Just three points back is Bridgewater College in fourth. The Eagles secured the remaining first place vote.
The 2018 season saw Washington and Lee use an especially stout defense result in the program's 10th overall ODAC men's soccer title, second-most in league history to Lynchburg's 16. The Generals registered nine shutouts and finished the season with streak of seven-straight clean sheets heading the offseason. They outscored opponents 42-6 over the final 15 games of the season.
W&L's historic run included a three shutouts in the ODAC Tournament. After topping eighth-seeded Virginia Wesleyan University, 2-0, in the quarterfinals, the Generals took down Roanoke, 4-0, to earn a spot in a third-straight ODAC title game. Their opponent was a bit of a surprise with Bridgewater advancing to its first men's soccer conference championship game in program history. The Eagles defeated sixth-seeded Ferrum College, 2-0, in the quarterfinals and then eliminated #2 Lynchburg, 1-0, in the semifinals to setup a date with host W&L for the league trophy.
The two clubs played to a 0-0 draw thru the opening 45 minutes, but Washington and Lee found the net three times in a 13-minute span midway thru the second frame to nail down a 3-0 triumph.
RELATED: 2018 ODAC Tournament Results
The Generals earned their fourth straight trip into NCAA Division III's national bracket of 62 via the conference's automatic qualifier. But W&L was the ODAC's lone representative on the national stage, snapping a string of two straight seasons with multiple entries.
Washington and Lee's regional draw featured a trip to national powerhouse Messiah College for first and potentially second round action. The Generals, ranked 23rd by the United Soccer Coaches at the time, squared off with #25 Johns Hopkins University in their opening game. The two foes played to a 0-0 draw thru 110 minutes of action that included a pair of 10-minute overtime periods. The Blue Jays advanced on penalty kicks, 4-2, abruptly ending W&L's season.
RELATED: 2018 NCAA Tournament Results
Exactly half of the 36 student-athletes that earned All-ODAC honors last season are set for a return to league parks in 2019. Lynchburg features an ODAC-best five all-conference returners of the nine Hornets that picked up laurels in 2018. Forward Abibi Osman and midfield Jack Ashby and Ben Mackey each appeared on the All-ODAC First Team. Centerback Bhayle Kearns was an All-ODAC Second Team pick along with second-year forward Joey Daly.
Roanoke is a perfect 4-for-4 in returning honorees. Forward Atticus Cooke as well as midfielder Philani Mlotshwa and defender Tim Leuenberger were second team selections last year. Liam Camilleri is back to spearhead the attack after earning All-ODAC Third Team recognition.
Bridgewater and W&L feature a trio of All-ODAC returners. Forward Thomas White is back to help the Eagles vie for a second straight title appearance after picking up first team honors. He's joined by second team midfielder Leo Alcantara and third team defender Matthew Pagano. The Generals and reigning ODAC Coach of the Year Mike Singleton must replace 2018 player of the Year Dylan Ritch following his graduation. Back to help with that are first team midfielder and ODAC Rookie of the Year, centerback Jack Rawlins. Second team center-half Oliver Dolberg and third team goalkeeper Michael Nyc also return. Nyc has not allowed a goal in his last 816:15 of field time dating back to last season.
The remaining three All-ODAC honorees don Hampden-Sydney College, Randolph College, and Randolph-Macon kits. Midfielder Spell Car returns to H-SC after a second team nod in 2018. Randolph welcomes back third team defender Frankie DiOrio, and R-MC looks to midfield playmaker Anthony Astruc after garnering second team accolades.
RELATED: 2018 All-ODAC Awards
The 2019 schedule begins with non-conference play on Friday, August 30. The start of conference play is staggered this season, with the first contest slated for Friday, September 20. The regular season closes on Tuesday, October 29 with tournament playing opening for nine squads on Friday, November 1. The quarterfinals will be contested Sunday, November 3 with the highest remaining seed hosting the semifinals and championship on Saturday-Sunday, November 9-10.
Listed below is the 2019 ODAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll. Be sure to check out the preseason capsules for each team as well (online version only click HERE for the online release).
For more information on ODAC men's soccer, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.